Horrible Poems from Horrible People

So, I enjoyed creating that strange poem/speech out of John Howard’s old Tampa interview so much on the weekend that I’ve been combing through the PM archives for the past few days and making more.

After the first one, which I thought was quite successful in terms of coherent message and clear stylistic choices, I’ve found the next few tough. I have also (of course) started questioning myself. Exactly what is the point of doing these weird poem/speech things? The historian in me is hyperventilating, because I’m twisting people’s words and making them sound more horrific than, perhaps, they actually sounded. The liberal artist in me is feeling icky for having to read through all these horrible words, trying to make them into something called ‘art’ and is worried that by putting them on my blog I’m seemingly condoning the messages in the speeches. I’m worried that my historian fears will stop me taking the speech/poems far enough to make some kind (any kind) of artistic statement. And the perfectionist in me keeps complaining that none of my poems subsequent to the first one are good enough to warrant me continuing with this particular writing exercise.

However, there is something addictive about them that has kept me writing, despite all the internal protests. Plus, they’re very quick. And the process of picking random, unrelated statements and then being able to craft them into some kind of whole is endlessly fascinating to me. It’s like trying to put a puzzle together when you don’t know what it’s supposed to look like in the end. So, here’s a couple of others.

John Howard (from an interview about the lack of WMD’s in Iraq)

I will answer for my statements

I’ve made plenty of mistakes

I get things wrong

I mean, I apologise if I misled people.

Deliberately misled people.

I’m explaining it.

I’m explaining to you what happened.

Well, I don’t know.

I just don’t know.

I can’t do better than that, I’m not an encyclopedia.

You’ll forgive me for not answering simply yes or no, not off the top of my head.

I’d have to get the speech, I’d have to find…

I would have to ask.

As you’re asking me the question.

The answer to that is: I’m not in a position to answer.

I can’t answer.

But, there has been no intention to deceive or mislead

Let us choose our words carefully.

Bad faith, bad motives, deliberate intention.

Anything that I have said that might be seen as misleading

Was not a deliberate misleading.

The literal statement I made

Literally what I said:

Are you prepared to go to war?


We can’t walk away.


Pauline Hanson (from her first speech to parliament in 1996)

I do not feel we can go on living in a dream world

I am fed up to the back teeth

I was born here: where the hell do I go?

Like most Australians, I worked for my land.

I must pay and continue.

I call on the people:

One people, one nation, one flag

Just an ordinary Australian who speaks for 90% of Australians

The majority of Australians be fair dinkum.

But, Australians, it is too late.

Millions of Australians stop kowtowing

Ordinary Australians have been kept out

Mainstream Australia is in danger

Divided into black and white

Wake up, Mainstream Australia!

Life’s knocks applied to mainstream Australians.

Most Australians want

Two sets of rules.

There is light at the end of the tunnel:

I can invite whom I want into my home, I say who comes into my country.

I may be only a ‘fish and chip shop lady’ but

How proud I am.

I salute them all.


John Howard (interview about Sept. 11th, children overboard, war in Afghanistan)

This is not an attack on Islam

There is no total solution.

But these people will not come to the mainland.

It’s one of the pillars of our society.

Even in times like this,

We have laws.

We’ve got laws in relation to that.

Handle the problem where it first occurs.

We cannot allow ourselves to be intimidated by this:

The kind of people we are.

A humane people.

We preserve our standards.

We continue to behave in a humane fashion.

Our resolve is being tested.

Emotional blackmail is very distressing.

It must be very distressing.

It’s a difficult issue.

A 100 year battle.

A matter of common humanity.

You seek to roll yourself into a small ball and disappear.

They are playing on that.

I will condemn.

I don’t want people in this country who throw children overboard.

Genuine refugees don’t throw children into the sea.


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